This rosary meditation focuses on The Fourth Joyful Mystery — The Presentation of our Lord. In this mystery we see Mary and Joseph present Jesus at the temple as was the Jewish tradition. They encountered a man named Simeon whom the Holy Spirit said would not experience death until he had seen the Anointed One. Upon seeing Jesus, Simeon said “Now Master, You can dismiss Your servant in peace; You have fulfilled Your word” (Luke 2:29). Simeon is an example on how our faith requires patience, endurance, and moral fortitude. While there are times when we may not feel God’s presence in our lives our faith tells us that He is always near and always hears our prayers.
I sometimes come across postings on the Catholic Answers web forums from people who feel discouraged since they do not feel close to Jesus. They talk about how they pray, go to Mass, fast, and read the Bible and yet they do not feel the Lord’s grace. I think we can all look to Simeon as an example that even the most just and pious need to be patient and have faith that the Lord will present Himself in the way that will ultimately lead us to Him. However, while God desires all of us to be in His heavenly kingdom, the road is a long one fraught with temptation and sin. But if we can hold on and remain faithful, even when it seems like God does not hear our prayers or notices our good deeds, we will be rewarded with the eternal happiness of Heaven.
Why must our faith be difficult to live at times? Why don’t we get direct answers to our prayers from a thundering voice in the clouds? Why must we endure such hardship and struggle? I think Mother Teresa can help us find an answer. In her private letters to Rev. Michael Van Der Peet she once said (as reported in this Time article):
Jesus has a very special love for you,” she assured Van der Peet. “[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak … I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have [a] free hand.
Here was a woman who embodied everything great about the Catholic faith and yet at times she felt distant from God’s love. She, like Simeon, was just and pious and yet she endured periods of time when she felt a great emptiness in her heart. Kolodiejchuk, a senior Missionaries of Charity member, explains that perhaps that emptiness is what drove her to do such great work. She never felt like her job was done or that God was prematurely rewarding her when there was still so much for her to do. Perhaps this was God’s way of making sure that pride did not hinder her important work. Mother Teresa still continued to do the Lord’s work and even put up a good face to others (the statements about her spiritual difficulties were not known until after her death). And, like Simeon, her patience paid off as she is now closer to Jesus than any of us ever can be in this world.
When we meditate on the Fourth Joyful Mystery let us remember Simeon and how his faith and patience was ultimately rewarded. We must pray for those who have fallen on the long and difficult road of faith that they get back up and have the strength to live as Jesus calls them. Remember, God has a plan for each of us and that plan will ultimately lead us to His heavenly kingdom. We just need to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, especially in those times when it feels like God is the most distant from us. It is those times of great hardship when Jesus presents Himself to us although it may not be in the way we expect or we may not be listening. Remember in your prayers to not only speak to the Lord, but also allow Him to respond for He will show you the way to Him.
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